Gardening is fun for kids
This story was originally published in Spring 2011, but we are posting again due to popular demand. Enjoy!
The California Master Gardener’s Annual Conference was held in Santa Rosa this year. One of our fellow Master Gardeners gave an extremely informational and interesting presentation documenting the benefits children and adults receive by just being in a garden setting. Did you know that students who participated in school gardens scored higher on math and science achievement tests than students who did not garden? Other benefits of gardening include improved concentration, enhanced cognitive functioning, reduced stress and anxiety, increased feelings of calm and relaxation, improved mood, personal satisfaction and sense of pride.
Interest in backyard, community, and school gardens have heightened in the past five years as people have become more aware of sustainability and the importance of eating organic pesticide- free fruits and vegetables. The Smithsonian has recreated a Victory Garden based on a 1940 pamphlet on vegetable gardening and the White House has created the “Let’s Move” theme incorporating education for eating healthy.
It’s time for all us to consider the importance of teaching our children about our food chain and how they can participate in a home, school or community garden. It is important for young children to know that food does not originate in the grocery store. It’s amazing to note that after World War II, victory gardens accounted for 40 percent of total US produce while larger farms provided produce to the troops.
Gardening is also fun! The first thing my grandson, Tyler, (above) does when he comes to my house is run out to the strawberry patch. He derives a great deal of pleasure from picking and eating the berries right from the vine. He was a little upset, however when he ran out in December and to his surprise, there were no berries. This turned into a learning experience and I was able to teach him about growing seasons, frost, etc. He is also intrigued with my project of growing potatoes in a garbage can. He is looking forward to the harvest when we will dump the entire can onto a tarp and harvest organic Russet potatoes that can be stored an eaten during the winter months.
Tyler enjoys investigating everything in the yard. In addition to the vegetable garden, he likes to water the herb garden (it’s more his size). We were watering the herb garden last week when he squealed with delight as he discovered a blue damselfly near the fountain.
By the time I set my camera up, the damselfly had hidden himself underneath the oregano, his little head was peeking out, looking like some type of alien. His blue color was beautiful and vibrant. This was an opportunity for me to talk to Tyler about beneficial insects and how they help our echo system.
Tyler also loves to help me in the flower cutting garden. He always asks me to tell him the name of each and every flower. He enjoys searching for little critters in this area too. In addition to our blue damselfly, we discovered a beautiful dragonfly perched on a stake supporting dinner plate dahlias.
The dragonfly stayed perched on the stake for quite some time. Tyler was glued to the cutting garden watching the dragonfly until I was able to coax him over to the birdhouse box where a family of wrens had made a nest and the baby birds were preparing to fledge. Mom and Dad were busy feeding their babies, so there was much activity and yet another opportunity to talk to Tyler about birds and how they nest, find food, bathe and fit into our echo system.
If you would enjoy more information on gardening with children, a free booklet is available to help you get started. Visit this website and click on “Gardens for Learning.” www.csgn.org
The National Gardening Association collects data to track the benefits of school gardens and this website may be of interest as well www.kidsgardening.org. There is also a junior Master Gardener Program website at www.jmkids.us
As always, UC Davis website has an abundance of information on Home Gardening. www.ipm.ucdavis.edu Click on Home Gardening.--JM
Jody McPheeters is a retired executive who lives in San Ramon. She is a published author, freelance writer, and Certified Master Gardener. To learn more about her landscapes and garden designs, please visit her website at www.yourgardeningcoach.com.
Torch songstress Tara Linda & the Rumor Mill Hit Yoshi’s
Dance into spring April 16 at Yoshi's Oakland.
Celebrate with composer/vocalist Tara Linda and The Rumor Mill the success of their latest album, Torch and Sass. Linda, one of the few independent artists to hit the top-30 jazz charts, has more new and original music to debut at Yoshi's, as well as fresh takes on vintage favorites.
It will be an upbeat, sultry, and eclectic night of original jazz, blues and torch. And the Yoshi's dance floor will be open.
"A diverse musical treat," says San Jose Jazz. "Mesmerizing," says the Oakland Tribune.
From smoky ballads to sassy swings, Linda's delivery is heartfelt and playful. While her vocal style draws from 1930s-40s torch, her songwriting, lyrics, and catchy hooks are refreshingly original. Inspired both by American and Latin American torch singers—from Lydia Mendoza to Sarah Vaughan—her voice is steeped in the jazz, blues, and Latin traditions of her childhood.
Torch and Sass, her fifth album, celebrates early era vocal jazz; “My recent songwriting is inspired by the early jazz recordings: the prominent melodies, the way lyrics told stories, the hooks, and tongue-in-cheek humor,” she says. She performs a lively and culturally diverse repertoire; from tangos and swings, to stomps, bossa novas and boleros … with hooks you’ll be singing all the way home.
“I’m inspired by the sound of celebration in early jazz,” she adds, “how it made folks want to sing, dance, and brew moonshine.”
Tickets are $11 for students and $15 general admission. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 16 at Yoshi's Oakland, 510 Embarcadero West at Jack London Square in Oakland. For more information, call 510-238-9200.
For more show details, visit: http://www.yoshis.com/oakland/jazzclub/artist/show/3380. -- ST
Devil Mountain Run Returns
Research has long shown the tie between strong physical health and good mental health.
This year, the Devil Mountain Run -- a long-standing tradition in Danville -- has made the Discovery Counseling Center the beneficiary of the 5K, 10K, and Kids Fun Run on May 5.
The run will be held in memory of Allison Bayliss, an athletic San Ramon Valley High School sophomore who lost her battle with depression and took her own life in May 2011. Allison had been a member of the swim team while at San Ramon High and organizers want to honor her with an athletic event.
“We focus so much of our time and energy keeping our kid’s physically healthy – yet many times we don’t focus on their emotional and mental health," said Danville's Chris McCrary, co-founder of Katalyst Events, which is organizing the race. "We hope (the Devil Mountain Run) will raise awareness of the struggles that our kids deal with every day and to let them know that there are resources like the Discovery Counseling Center right in our backyard."
Started in 1978, the race, which draws about 2,000 runners and walkers each year, was cancelled last year when the sponsor, Children's Hospital Oakland pulled out because of high production costs.
Discovery Center Executive Director Kathy Chiverton said she wants to spread the word about the center, which aims to understand the importance of early intervention in coping with mental health challenges.
"Our goal is to ensure that all in need have access to mental health services and that no one is turned away because of an inability to pay full fees. We are most grateful for the generous support from the Devil Mountain Run, which will assist Discovery Counseling Center in our mission to continue to provide resources to help our community stay healthy,'' she said.
McCrary and Kevin Magna, co-founders of Katalyst Events, have been involved in the racing community for years. Both are accomplished athletes and helped to lead the Forward Motion Race Club to a premier running and triathlete club in Northern California before embarking on their new endeavor as race producers.
Registration for the events range from $25-$40 and the Kids Fun Run is free. Registration is available online at http://www.devilmtnrun.com/ -- KB
Turning Memories into Memoirs
Perhaps you have considered your assorted collection of notes, jotted down in a journal, on scraps of paper or in other various notebook forms, to be all you would ever do to preserve your most significant life memories. You might think “What, me? actually gathering my thoughts and facts together into a written form chronicling my personal life experiences or family stories? It is a plausible endeavor worth your confidence and, yes, worthy of publishing as a lasting document for posterity, generations to come.
There are, in fact, resources through Soleil Lifestory Network for the coaching services necessary to afford interested individuals aid in creating a memoir of which to be proud. Details of editing and book production are all included in a free e-book by Denis Ledoux, with 25 years of memoir-writing skills, at www.turningmemories.com.
This accessible-on-line FAQ guidebook outlines the Ghostwriting Services available and elaborates on how a co-author or ghostwriter provides the technical skills and sensibility to help you realize your dream of preserving and sharing your life story in manuscript form. The finished product will be your story, autobiography, and yours alone!
There are myriad obstacles which might detain a person from being a self-starter in composing the draft, initiating their written work. Indeed, a first step complimentary half hour consultation helps sketch and craft your life story, as an architect employs your vision to create your dream house. Loose bits of recall, scenes, dialogues and vignettes can be woven into a tapestry of vivid themes and meanings, creating a “text that fully expresses and embodies the life you wish to memorialize in your book”, reports Ledoux.
The added benefits of putting your purpose to print might be the healing or developmental process for the writer. Much can be learned, experienced or shared with others in the process of relating your life story or excerpts from family history. Or the writing can be significant just for itself. The process of “letting go, opening up to share well-kept treasures of family history or little-known events of a by-gone era, can serve as a catharsis or cleansing for repressed emotions, evoking a sense of relief for both the writer and the reader.
Thinking the unspoken words and consigning a lasting text for family to read has intrinsic value. Ledoux expresses “The worth of a memoir is [best] measured by the inherent value to the writer and to its selected audience.” There is a unique quality about each and everyone’s life. It could be that you were the first person to accomplish a certain success in your community, organize a group or discover a simple remedy for removing impossible stains.
Giving it some thought, it is highly likely that we all can find a reason to write our own story that would be unique and different from anyone else’s. As you embark upon the trip down memory lane, new avenues of exploration can be guided by the expert coaching at Soleil Lifestory Network at www.turningmemories.com or at 207-353-5454, 9-5 EST. --KRB
About One in Three Can Give Blood
It is inspiring to know I can offer support where and when needed, even being able to provide a critically life-saving gift for up to three lives saved in a donation of a single pint of my blood. That is why I want to give. The reward for me is that there is virtually no cost, a short reclining pause in my day, amid a comfortable room filled with other like donors, ordinary people of a generous spirit, making a difference for someone in need.
Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion of some blood product. This equals a requirement for 44,000 blood donations every day or 5 million donations a year. To extend a life for a child with leukemia, someone with hemophilia or an accident victim, a voluntary donation can make a huge difference in a life or death situation.
The American Red Cross, established in 1940, serves as the agency to accept only volunteer donors who are not paid for their benevolent gifts of donating blood. The safe, sterile and confidential procedure includes a check of vital signs, temperature, pulse, blood pressure and finger-stick hemoglobin value. All blood is tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Syphilis and other infectious diseases before being used.
Only 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to give blood, and of those 50% are loyal, repeat donors. The gender of donors is almost equally divided at 50/50 for men and women.
The plus side is that healthy bone marrow in a blood donor makes a constant supply of red blood cells, plasma and platelets, thus the body replenishes the elements given during the donation procedure within a short time. The safe interval between donations is generally 56 days and future appointments may be scheduled at the time of your donation.
Why do I want to donate blood? Knowing it is the right thing to do, I want to help others who might be in need. The feeling of accomplishment is shared with other donors as we join at tables in the hospitality area after our donations to enjoy complimentary snacks and beverages before saying good-bye to the friendly and helpful Red Cross staff.
Helen Keller inspired others in remarking “When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.”
Get Away: To A Lighthouse in the SF Bay
It may have been a well-kept secret that quite a small island located just 30 minutes from downtown San Francisco in the Richmond Bay is home to a unique dinner, bed and breakfast inn. However, East Brother Light Station, built in 1873, has been operating as an active lighthouse for 133 years, first and foremost as an adjunct to the navigation of mariners in the San Pablo and San Francisco Bays. Two islands on the east of the San Pablo Strait are named The Brothers. Two similar islands on the west are referred to as The Sisters. A long and colorful history of use extends since the lighting of the civilian manually-operated beacon of East Brother Light Station in 1874.
After WWII, Coast Guard personnel replaced civilian light keepers, tending the station around the clock, providing for all forms of maintenance and ferrying supplies from shore to the island. The conversion to automation of the beacon’s operation in 1969 and the subsequent placement of EBLS on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, brought with it a new and brighter focus. The lighthouse had survived storm waves, earthquakes, gales, collisions by ships and a major fire over its lifetime.
By 1979, a 20 year renewable license, issued to restore and occupy the station and operate a Bed and Breakfast Inn sparked the interest and efforts of over 300 volunteers to begin restoration of this pillar of light. Saving the lighthouse from destruction, enthusiasm and overwhelming community support brought their efforts to fruition in less than 1 year, as supplies and personnel were ferried across from Richmond in private boats.
With new-found experience as inn keepers since June 2012, the couple both have backgrounds in television entertainment, Richard as a director/producer and Jude as an actress. Haukom remarks “We’re able to meet people we never would have met otherwise, and they always seem to leave happy.” Foregger expresses his fascination with the foghorn, “It’s a mind blowing experience.”
The dinner, bed and breakfast inn is available for bookings Thursday through Sunday of each week, with a choice of 5 queen bed accommodation options. Two rooms have private baths, two rooms share a bath and another choice is in an intimate separate building, farthest from the foghorn. All have different views and one is equipped with a wood-burning fireplace. The modern amenities of propane fueling and solar panels for water-heating provide comfort to this unique retreat, where gourmet food, nostalgia, charm and expansive views of San Francisco skyline, Mt. Tamalpais and the Marin coastline etch a landmark memory for visiting guests.
Consideration should be given to the requirement for physical stamina and strength to climb from a bobbing boat up a vertical ladder. No pets are allowed and the minimum age requirement for the stay is 18 years old. Fishing is allowed with a license, and for groups of up to 12, luncheons and parties may be arranged. During summer months, day use on Saturdays at a $20 charge includes the boat transportation and a guided tour of the island.